Sushant Singh Rajput didn’t need me to ‘finance’ drug purchases, Rhea Chakraborty tells high court
Arguing for bail, Rhea Chakraborty’s lawyer said: “Sushant Singh Rajput’s house manager Samuel Miranda used to take care of all household expenses, and there was no question of Rhea financing drug purchases for the deceased actor.”Updated: Sep 30, 2020, 01:14 IST
Refuting the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) allegation that actor Rhea Chakraborty, along with her brother Showik, “financed” the drug purchases of her boyfriend and late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, her lawyer Satish Maneshinde told the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday that “Rajput was in no dearth of funds”.
Chakraborty and her brother were arrested on September 9 in connection with the alleged drug angle in Rajput’s death. Justice Sarang Kotwal reserved order on all applications.
Arguing for their bail, Maneshinde said: “Rajput’s house manager Samuel Miranda used to take care of all household expenses, and there was no question of Rhea financing drug purchases for the deceased actor.”
Responding to NCB’s accusation that Chakraborty was part of a drug syndicate, Maneshinde said the allegations were merely on the basis of a solitary incident of March 17, when she gave her credit card to Miranda, who withdrew Rs10,000 using it and purchased contraband for the deceased actor. He maintained that no amount was paid directly using Chakraborty’s card to any of the alleged peddlers for procuring drugs and so she can’t be said to be associated with any drug ring.
It is an admitted fact that Rajput used to consume drugs even before Chakraborty became acquainted with him in April 2019, and two of Rajput’s co-stars, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor, have reportedly told NCB that he was consuming drugs since long, he said.
Maneshinde said Showik too was accused of being part of a drug syndicate for allegedly paying petty amounts on three occasions in April for purchasing minuscule amounts of ganja and charas.
The lawyer added that even if one were to go by the allegations levelled by NCB, stringent provisions contained in section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (financing illicit trafficking of drugs or harbouring offenders) were not at all applicable to Chakraborty or Showik.
Maneshinde said NCB’s reliance on recovery of commercial quantity of drugs from one Anuj Keshwani and then the claim that Chakraborty and Showik were part of a drug ring cannot be maintained as neither of them had any connection with the alleged drug supplier.
NCB had further alleged that Chakraborty had harboured Rajput who used to consume drugs. Maneshinde contended that during the relevant period, Chakraborty was residing with Rajput in his house and questioned how she could have harboured the late actor in his own house.
Advocate Taraq Sayed, who argued for bail of another accused, Abdel Basit Parihar, submitted that NCB has been claiming to have busted a major drug ring by arresting 18-19 college students. He claimed that almost all accused arrested by NCB in this case come from well-to-do families and cannot be termed drug peddlers or suppliers.
Sayed submitted that the arrests were made only on the basis of statements recorded under section 67 of the NDPS Act, especially when there was hardly any recovery from most of them. He said the statements under section 67 can at the most be used to corroborate recovery from an accused, and not otherwise.
Sayed said Parihar is a last-year student of architecture and has missed his examination as he has been arrested by NCB. He added although moralistic argument is being advanced on behalf of NCB as to how society, especially the young generation was affected by the menace of narcotic drugs, in our country, more people die due to smoking than by drug abuse.
Maintaining that all alleged transactions involve small quantities of drugs and therefore were bailable, Sayed said all five applicants before HC – Chakraborty, Showik, Miranda, Rajput staffer Dipesh Sawant and Parihar – were entitled to bail as a matter of right.
In support of his submission that the offences alleged are bailable, he relied on a 2010 judgment of the Bombay high court holding that all offences under NDPS Act involving small quantities were bailable.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who opposed the bail applications on behalf of NCB, however, submitted that the applicants were under wrong assumption that all offences under the NDPS Act involving small quantity of drugs were bailable. Singh submitted that NDPS Act nowhere states that certain offences were bailable and claimed that all offences under the Act were non-bailable.
Justice Kotwal agreed with his submission. The judge pointed to a 1999 judgment of a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, observing that all offences under the NDPS Act were non-bailable, and no other court was therefore authorised to take a different view of the issue.
Singh added that so far 19 persons have been arrested by NCB in this case, and all of them were interlinked and connected with each other. Referring to recovery of commercial quantity of drugs from Anuj Keshwani, he said case of none of them can be separated from that of the others.
“Drug dealings was a regular affair of the drug syndicate,” Singh said. “Showik was in regular contact with the dealers. Sushant Singh Rajput, the consumer of the drugs, may not be alive today, but persons involved in these deals can’t go scot free only because he is no more.”
Singh also responded to Maneshinde’s contention that NCB had no jurisdiction to investigate the case in view of the August 19, 2020 direction of the Supreme Court to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over cases “on the death of Rajput and surrounding circumstances”.
Maneshinde had submitted that in the replies filed by NCB to the bail applications of Chakraborty and Showik before the special NDPS court, NCB had in clear terms said it was a fallout of the drug angle in Rajput case. “This case has nothing to do with the death of Sushant Singh Rajput,” said Singh. “It is nobody’s case that Sushant Singh Rajput died due to drug abuse.”
The additional solicitor general added that the case was connected to Rajput only to the extent of him being the consumer of drugs, and not otherwise. Besides, it is a settled position of law that an accused cannot choose the agency to investigate offences against him or her, he said. This argument is not available to Chakraborty that the case should have been handed over to CBI for investigation, he said.
Chakraborty and Showik moved HC for bail after their bail applications were rejected by the special NDPS court on September 11. The other three accused have approached the court separately after being refused bail by the special court.